Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council

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Settlement spin: A tale of two stories

Settlement spin: A tale of two stories Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Israel, Media/ Academia, NGOs, Palestinians, Updates    

When it comes to stories in the international media reporting data about Israeli settlements in the West Bank, the subcontracting by reporters of their research to the left-wing NGO and anti-settlement lobby group Peace Now has been routine. But can Peace Now be trusted to provide reporters with a fair and impartial reading of the actual settlement data?

A comparison of two recent news items may provide the answer.

 

Hamas removed from EU list of terror groups, temporarily?

Hamas removed from EU list of terror groups, temporarily? Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

On Wednesday, the General Court of the European Union (EU) in Luxembourg accepted a petition by Hamas to remove the group from the EU's list of terrorist organisations.  The Court emphasised that its judgment was based on legal technical and procedural reasons, arguing the reasons given for Hamas' designation were based on media and internet reports and not considered analysis by "competent authorities".

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Overseas comment on Martin Place and lone wolf terror/ UNSC ructions

Overseas comment on Martin Place and lone wolf terror/ UNSC ructions Categories: Australasia, Islamic Extremism, Israel, Palestinians, Terrorism, United Nations, Updates    

With the extensive focus in Australia on the Martin Place attack on a Lindt coffee shop in Sydney by disgruntled Iranian immigrant and self-styled Sheik Man Haron Monis, this Update features some overseas comment on the incident - as well as what it says about the growing problem of "lone wolf" violence inspired by calls for individual attacks from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). It also includes some analysis of the intense diplomacy this week over a Palestinian plan to put forward a UN Security Council Resolution demanding Israel unilaterally withdraw to the pre-1967 armistice lines within two years.

The Last Word: Religion and Conflict
Jeremy Jones (right) at the 5th World Peace Forum

The Last Word: Religion and Conflict Author: Jeremy Jones Categories: Asia, Interfaith Dialogue    

The words were delivered in a matter of fact manner. The speakers were calm, rational, authentic and authoritative.
The information the two men shared was spine-chilling. Both were from the Central African Republic. One Christian, one Muslim, each committed to their faith and to the well-being of their faith communities.

Talking about violence, destruction of religious institutions, mass murder and lawlessness. But talking together.
The venue was the 5th World Peace Forum in Jakarta, an impressive event assembled by the huge Indonesian Muslim group Muhammadiyah, the Malaysian Cheng Ho Multicultural Trust and the Centre for Dialogue and Cooperation among Civilisations (CDCC).

The Software of Coexistence

The Software of Coexistence Author: Yehonathan Tommer Categories: Israel, Palestinians    

If Muhammad can't come to the mountain, then the mountain must come to Muhammad. And that's exactly what Smadar Nehab and Sami Saadi set out to do when they established Tsofen (Compass) in Nazareth eight years ago. Tsofen is an Arab-Jewish NGO promoting job placement solutions for young unemployed Israeli Arab software engineers who graduated from Israeli universities.

Eyewitness to the Mideast Collapse

Eyewitness to the Mideast Collapse Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Egypt, International Security, Iran, Islamic Extremism, Israel, Middle East    

Dr. Jonathan Spyer is a Middle East analyst who has repeatedly travelled to Syria and Iraq to understand the complex network of jihadist groups currently fighting there. He was recently in Australia and New Zealand as a guest of AIJAC.

Spyer told a Melbourne audience that the Middle East faces its greatest change since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, as "borders which had seemed to be permanent between states are fading into irrelevance... and new political forces are on the rise."

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Urban Warfare in Gaza and Beyond
IDF urban warfare training facility

Urban Warfare in Gaza and Beyond Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: International Security, Israel    

The third international conference on the Challenges of Warfare in Densely Populated Areas was held on December 2 at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) at Tel Aviv University, in conjunction with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

This year's conference was held just three months after the conclusion of Operation Protective Edge, the military escalation between Israel and Hamas in Gaza that led to over 2,000 Palestinian deaths (at a combatant/non-combatant ratio hewing close to 1:1 according to ongoing research by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Centre).

Fraternal Rivals

Fraternal Rivals Author: Jonathan D. Halevi Categories: Iran, Islamic Extremism, Middle East, Palestinians    

The State of the Islamic Caliphate (known as the Islamic State, IS, ISIS, ISIL, or Daesh), which was declared by self-appointed caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has fundamentally altered the reality of the Middle East and threatens to reshuffle the geopolitical cards, change the map of existing state borders, and undermine all the Muslim states as separate national entities.

The Power of Personality

The Power of Personality Author: Shmuel Rosner Categories: Israel    

Israelis don't directly vote for PM candidates. In a parliamentary system like ours, one votes for a party - namely, an ideology. But, alas, Israel's parties, except for very few, have little to offer as far as ideology is concerned...

Is she a hawk? Is she a dove? Livni can take her seat in a government headed by Yitzhak Herzog and in one headed by Binyamin Netanyahu. The same is true for Lapid, Kahlon, Lieberman, Shas and United Torah Judaism. The same is true for Herzog himself and for Netanyahu.

Political Tempest

Political Tempest Author: Amotz Asa-El Categories: Israel    

Autumn ended early for Israelis this year, as winds were ruffling Jerusalem's foliage already in October and by November heavy rains poured down on Tel Aviv. Still, by early December the politicians had stolen winter's thunder, having rushed into an unseasonable election blanketed in a thick fog.

Israel has had 33 cabinets during its 66 years, but its legislatures have on average been almost twice as durable as its governments, ordinarily lasting at least three years, and in seven cases surviving their full prescribed four-year terms.

Deconstruction Zone: Palestinians must lead the fight to reform UNRWA

Deconstruction Zone: Palestinians must lead the fight to reform UNRWA Author: Bassam Eid Categories: Palestinians, United Nations    

We Palestinians can no longer deny our responsibility for the destiny of our people. For 26 years I have been devoting my life to the mission of defending human rights. I have seen wars and terror. I live in Jerusalem and was brought up in a United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) refugee camp in Shuafat, a refugee camp like 58 other UNRWA refugee camps created for the sole purpose of keeping Palestinian Arab people in "temporary" conditions, for 65 years, under the false pretence and specious promise of the "right of return" to pre-1948 villages that do not exist.

As a proud Palestinian, I must take responsibility for what will happen to our people.

UNRWA, to continue its operation, depends on death and the visible suffering of five million Palestinians who continue to wallow in and around UNRWA facilities.

Scribblings: Too Good to Check
BDS victims: Palestinian SodaStream workers

Scribblings: Too Good to Check Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Anti-Zionism, Israel    

I know a country that is so racist it has public holidays associated with one religious faith, thus excluding and marginalising those who follow other religions or no religion. It is so racist that it has a symbol of one religious faith on its flag. Furthermore, in this country, the main calendar used by government is one that is mostly associated with a specific religious faith. It is so racist it provides special benefits and pensions to individuals who served in the armed forces - thus effectively discriminating against those minorities who are less likely to choose to serve in the armed forces. Plus, this racist country even prohibits interaction with enemy states during wartime, which clearly discriminates against members of the community originating in those enemy states.

Editorial: Back to the Polls Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Israel, Palestinians    

Twenty-two months into a maximum four-year term, Israelis are going to the polls again on March 17, after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu dismissed two of his ministers - Justice Minister Tzipi Livni of Hatnua and Finance Minister Yair Lapid of Yesh Atid - and dissolved his governing coalition.

Few Israelis will be happy about voting again so quickly, but Netanyahu stated he could no longer tolerate the destructive criticism of his government from within his own cabinet.

The Media and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict/Implications of the death of Ziad Abu Ein

The Media and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict/Implications of the death of Ziad Abu Ein Categories: Israel, Media/ Academia, Palestinians, Terrorism, Updates    

This Update features a major new article from veteran journalist Matti Friedman - who worked for more than five years for the Jerusalem bureau of the Associated Press - on the sources of media mistakes and incomplete or slanted reporting on Israeli-Palestinian issues. Following up on an earlier piece on the biases and prejudices he witnessed there, he paints a larger picture of an international press corps in Israel which forms a distinct subculture "a certain uniformity of attitude, behavior, and even dress" and this subculture insists the Israel story is "a story of Jewish moral failure" and nothing should be published which detracts from this view.

Evidence mounts that Hamas is profiting from aid being sent to rebuild Gaza
Image tweeted by Hazem Balousha

Evidence mounts that Hamas is profiting from aid being sent to rebuild Gaza Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

Foreign donors have pledged around US$5.4 billion for the reconstruction in the Gaza Strip. Yet Hamas still controls the Strip, and therefore has control over the supplies that come into Gaza. Many are concerned that the cement and other building supplies that Gaza receives for its reconstruction will again be diverted to enable Hamas to restore its tunnels that are built to smuggle goods/weapons, and to attack Israelis. Raising new alarm bells are reports that Hamas is stealing medicines and taxing all goods that enter Gaza

Letter to The Age/SMH: Home demolitions Author: Jamie Hyams Categories: Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

In Australia, a major purpose for imposing lengthy jail terms is to deter would-be criminals. But what if the would-be perpetrator intended to die in their attack, in the belief that they would go straight to paradise? What if they murdered in the knowledge they would become a hero in their community, they may even have streets named after them, and their family would be exceedingly generously compensated for their loss?

Washington’s goal now appears to be to legitimise Iran as a nuclear threshold state in exchange for a few concessions

Washington’s goal now appears to be to legitimise Iran as a nuclear threshold state in exchange for a few concessions Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: International Security, Iran, Op-eds    

Negotiations between the P5+1 and Iran over Iran's nuclear program in Vienna have just missed another major deadline. November 24 was the date set for a final deal - after an extension in June - under the interim agreement signed late last year. Moreover, this latest extension, unlike the previous one, violates a key provision of the initial interim deal last November which set a one year limit on the talks.

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Not Child's Play: The role of teens in recent Palestinian unrest
Example of current incitement against Israel.

Not Child's Play: The role of teens in recent Palestinian unrest Author: Allon Lee Categories: Anti-Zionism, Antisemitism, Israel, Media/ Academia, NGOs, Palestinians, Terrorism, Updates    

Over the past few years some in the media, most notably the Australian's Middle East correspondent John Lyons, have waged a high profile campaign accusing Israel of arresting, intimidating, harassing, and imprisoning hundreds of innocent Palestinian children each year, presumably for non-existent or minor crimes.

Yet, a series of reports, looking at violent protests in Jerusalem over the past few months is offering clear evidence they are primarily the handiwork of hundreds of teens, some as young as 12, from five or six Palestinian neighbourhoods. Moreover, this clearly shows a well-organised campaign of Palestinian minors being recruited, incited or serving in the front lines of conflict with Israel.

Israel has always been a “Jewish State” - and there is nothing unusual or undemocratic about that

Israel has always been a “Jewish State” - and there is nothing unusual or undemocratic about that Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Israel, Updates    

The debate over Israel's controversial nation-state bill has ignited commentary regarding the legitimacy of Israel being both a Jewish and democratic state. A common argument being made is that Israel defining itself as either a Jewish State, or in the words of Cabinet decision "The nation-state of the Jewish people" is inherently undemocratic or even racist - and the consideration of this bill proves Israel is becoming an undemocratic society. However, the reality is that since its inception Israel has been defined as both a democratic and Jewish State, according to both Israeli law and international law.

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UNRWA employees incite terrorism - while their salaries are paid by Western donors

UNRWA employees incite terrorism - while their salaries are paid by Western donors Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

Following recent terror attacks in Israel including the brutal murder of five people at a Har Nof synagogue in west Jerusalem, attention has been drawn to Palestinian incitement that includes fabrications, such as that the al Aqsa Mosque is under threat of Jewish "desecration" (see previous blog post). Many may be surprised to hear that even more extreme incitement is coming from several staff members, some in influential roles, who work at a UN agency, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, an organisation funded by Western countries including Australia.

Israel's controversial proposal for a "Basic Law: Israel– the National State of the Jewish People"

Israel's controversial proposal for a "Basic Law: Israel– the National State of the Jewish People" Categories: Israel, Updates    

Much is being written about a controversial Israeli cabinet decision on Sunday to send to the Knesset a "Basic Law" - that is a special law with constitutional status in Israel - that will enshrine into law Israel's existing identity as the "nation-state of the Jewish people." (A first vote on the bill in Israel's Knesset is now scheduled for next Wednesday) Moreover, much of what is being written, both in Israel and internationally, including in Australia, appears to be riddled with factual inaccuracies  and contradictions about key elements of the proposal. This Update is intended to provide background and analysis on what the cabinet decision actually means, the history of the proposal, and why there are both strong supporters and strong opponents of it in Israel.